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UNITED NATIONS, Nov 28 (APP): United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Friday called for restraint after top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was shot dead near Tehran, as a leading United States newspaper, citing three American officials, said that Israel was behind the assassination.

“We have noted the reports that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated near Tehran today. We urge restraint and the need to avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region,” United Nation (UN) chief’s Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said in response to a query by APP correspondent. The spokesman said he had no further comments.

Fakhrizadeh, 59, was targeted on Friday in a multi-pronged attack involving at least one explosion and small fire by a number of assailants in Absard city of Damavand County, Tehran Province, according to press reports. In a report posted on its website, The New York Times said, “One American official — along with two other intelligence officials — said that Israel was behind the attack on the scientist.”

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“It was unclear,” the newspaper added, ” how much the United States may have known about the operation in advance, but the two nations are the closest of allies and have long shared intelligence regarding Iran.” The White House and the C.I.A. declined to comment, according to the Times.

Meanwhile, Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi said there are “serious indications of Israeli responsibility” in the assassination of the Iranian scientist and warned that his government reserves the right to defend itself.

“Warning against any adventuristic measures by the United States and Israel against my country, particularly during the remaining period of the current administration of the United States in office, the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves its rights to take all necessary measures to defend its people and secure its interests,” Ambassador Ravanchi, wrote in a letter to the UN Secretary-General.

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“The Islamic Republic of Iran condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the criminal assassination of Martyr Fakhrizadeh, and expects the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Security Council to strongly condemn this inhumane terrorist act and take necessary measures against its perpetrators,” the letter added.